The UK antitrust authority’s bid to investigate Apple’s browser dominance on iOS has been stopped before it really got going — but not because of the merits of Apple’s case.
The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced in November that it would investigate the dominance of Apple and Google in the mobile browser market, with a focus on mobile gaming. In particular, the CMA wanted to examine Apple’s decision to restrict cloud gaming apps in the App Store.
Apple said in its appeal that because the CMA started the investigation too late, it lacked the authority to proceed. Timothy Otty, the company’s lawyer, argued that the investigation should have happened in June 2022 when the CMA published a report on mobile ecosystems, which found that the two tech giants had an “effective duopoly.”
On Friday, the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) agreed with Apple’s argument, saying, “it might well be said that the CMA erred in law” when it didn’t take action after its June report.
Apple forbids cloud streaming apps from the App Store unless each game has a separate app for content review. So, developers can create an app to help users sign up for their service and find games, but they can’t include the games inside one app.
But despite Apple’s victory, the European Union’s Digital Markets Act will make significant changes in March 2024, including requiring that companies like Apple open their platforms to allow third-party app stores. The Digital Markets Act entered into force in November 2022 and will be applicable on May 2, 2023.